The All Progressives Congress (APC) has described the petition filed by the Lagos State Governorship Candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, as “wishy-washy”.
In its 36-page final written address to the Lagos Governorship Election Tribunal, the APC in its response to the petition of Rhodes-Vivour also submitted that no evidence had been put before the 3 man panel to sway its mind that the votes cast for Gov. Babajide SanwoOlu were not lawful or that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with the relevant laws.
Rhodes-Vivour who was dissatisfied with the outcome of the March 18 governorship elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on April 9th filed
a 271-page petition to challenge the return of SanwoOlu and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat.
The LP Governorship candidate who is the sole petitioner listed three grounds on which his petition is based. He alleged that Gov. Sanwo-Olu & his deputy were not qualified to contest the election.
In facts put before the Tribunal to support his petition, Rhodes-Vivour particularly contended that deputy governor, Obafemi Hamzat, contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act 2020, allowed himself to be nominated while still being a citizen of the USA and after denouncing his allegiance to Nigeria
The petitioner contended that by reason of the disqualification of both men, all votes recorded for them and the APC are wasted and he is therefore entitled to be declared the winner of the election being the candidate with the second highest number of lawful votes cast.
In response to the petition, the APC filed a reply on May 2nd contesting the facts as stated by the petitioner and objecting to the competence of his petition.
During the trial, Rhodes-Vivour called a total of 10 witnesses including ward leaders, coordinators and 4 others who were subpoenaed. The petitioner also tendered over 20,000 documents including certified true copies of INEC Forms EC9, EC8A & B, Form EC40A, Form EC40G, BVAS report and CTC of judgments.
The APC at the close of the Petitioners case called only one witness through whom it tendered its relevant documents.
Channels Television’s Judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele obtained a copy of the APC’s final written address to the petition. It was filed on Friday, the 21st of July by the legal team of the APC led by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Abiodun Owonikoko, and 17 other lawyers.
In its summation of the evidence of the petitioner, the APC says that the testimonies of 6 of the Petitioners Witnesses “fell like a pack of cards” as the witnesses all admitted that they were not polling unit agents and part of their testimonies were hearsays based on what their agents relayed to them. The party also made the point that the petitioner only called 2 or 3 polling agents in far-flung polling stations.
On the testimony of a subpoenaed witness, an immigration attorney resident in the US on the alleged dual citizenship of the deputy governor, the APC particularly noted that she was not from the Home Secretary Office or any of the Government Department of the USA. She also did not present before the Tribunal the immigration document allegedly signed by Obafemi Hamzat to show his non-eligibility but merely gave her opinions based on assumptions.
Citing relevant provisions of the laws and decided authorities, the APC submitted that dual citizenship does not disqualify a Nigerian by birth from contesting the elections. It also submitted that the petitioner misconstrued the provisions of Section 29 of the constitution as he failed to lead any evidence to prove that Obafemi Hamzat ever applied to the President for the renunciation of his Nigerian citizenship neither is there any shred of evidence to prove that once he took the oath of allegiance of the USA, he would have been boxed into a corner and lost the right to contest for public office in Nigeria.
The APC also said that Clause 14 of the latest issued American Passport, provides that a citizen of America is entitled to enjoy all the rights and privileges of the country of his birth anytime he is outside the USA.
On the issue of the incomplete form EC9 of Obafemi Hamzat, the party said this was outside the jurisdiction of the tribunal being a pre-election complaint about a form submitted to INEC as far back as July 2022.
On whether the declaration and return of the Governor was invalid by reason of corrupt practices or substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and whether this electoral infraction or non-compliance substantially affected the result of the election, the APC submitted that the facts pleaded range “from spurious allegations that the results of elections were not instantly uploaded to IREV, to non-release of CTC of election documents, to suppression of petitioner’s supporters, to over voting, violence and voter intimidation and finally to the outlandish allegations of disruptions of the voting exercising, beating up and chasing away voters”, BUT no shred of evidence was adduced in all of this regard.
The APC says it is clear from it submissions that the petition was brought to the Tribunal “dead on arrival”, as the petitioner failed woefully to prove any of the grounds.
On the relief sought by the Petitioner for INEC to conduct a fresh election at which SanwoOlu, Hamzat and the APC would not be allowed to participate, the
party submitted that the Petitioner did not show by any evidence how many votes he scored at the election not to talk of demonstrating that he had the required spread of 25% of the total number of lawful votes cast, in at least two-thirds of the Local Government Areas of Lagos State.
The party reiterated that the results declared by INEC enjoy a presumption of regularity, and Rhodes-Vivour failed to lead credible evidence to revoke this presumption. The APC, therefore, urged the Tribunal to dismiss the Petition with substantial cost awarded in its favour.
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